Current time in Tokyo: July 27, 2:38 a.m.
TOKYO — The thud of Daiki Hashimoto’s dismount echoed through Ariake Gymnastics Center after a long night of the Olympic gymnastics men’s team final.
He stuck the landing and did all he could to make his team win. He waved to the smattering of fans in the arena, as well as the many Japanese volunteers, to coax them to their feet, as his admirers leapt and cheered back at him.
But their joy was put on pause. Hashimoto, the teenage Japanese star, and his team needed to wait for the score from the final Russian gymnast to be posted on the leaderboard before they could celebrate. In the end, to their dismay, they would not be celebrating at all.
Nikita Nagornyy of Russia ruined it for the home team, tumbling and twisting as well as he could on the floor exercise — in fact better than he had planned because he added extra tumbling — and his score was enough to eke out the win. Russia claimed the Olympic gold medal, unseating the 2016 Olympic champions, Japan, by finishing with 262.397 points. Japan was second, just 0.103 points behind. China was third. The United States team finished fifth to match its previous two Olympic finishes.
Once the final scores were posted, the Russian gymnasts fell to the ground in exhilaration and relief, while some Japanese gymnasts buried their head in their hands and others stood frozen, stunned by the unexpected loss. There were tears all around.
Russian Olympic Committee
|42.632 pts||43.140 pts||44.399 pts||44.765 pts||45.099 pts||42.465 pts||262.500 pts|
|43.700 pts||43.566 pts||42.433 pts||44.232 pts||44.666 pts||43.800 pts||262.397 pts|
|42.132 pts||43.966 pts||43.599 pts||44.332 pts||45.199 pts||42.666 pts||261.894 pts|
|42.432 pts||43.632 pts||41.833 pts||43.032 pts||42.932 pts||41.899 pts||255.760 pts|
|39.965 pts||42.099 pts||42.166 pts||42.899 pts||44.266 pts||43.199 pts||254.594 pts|
|42.066 pts||41.099 pts||40.298 pts||41.999 pts||44.066 pts||41.399 pts||250.927 pts|
|41.232 pts||39.999 pts||40.866 pts||41.499 pts||42.233 pts||40.565 pts||246.394 pts|
|34.832 pts||39.200 pts||40.333 pts||42.366 pts||42.765 pts||38.999 pts||238.495 pts|
As the inaugural three-on-three Olympic basketball tournament rolls on, a reduced-size dream team of American women from the W.N.B.A. is increasingly looking golden.
The United States topped Italy, 17-13, and China, 21-19, on Monday to improve to 6-0. The Americans won the Italy game despite struggling with their 2-point shot (from behind the arc), missing all seven of their attempts. But they managed to get enough points exclusively from the shorter 1-point shots and free throws. Against China they took just two 2’s, but Kelsey Plum made them both.
The U.S. squad consists of Plum and Jackie Young, both former No. 1 overall draft picks playing with the Las Vegas Aces; Stefanie Dolson of the Chicago Sky, a two-time All-Star; and Allisha Gray of the Dallas Wings, a former rookie of the year.
The team previously beat France, 17-10; Mongolia, 21-9; Romania, 22-11; and a Russia team that was their sternest test, 20-16.
As the only undefeated team, the United States is well positioned for the playoffs. Six of the eight entrants make the playoff stage, but the top two seeds get the advantage of a bye to the semifinals.
The Olympics has clearly slotted three-on-three into its youth-oriented program, along with events like skateboarding and sport climbing. Despite the lack of fans, pop music blares, a hype man enthusiastically touts the game action, and a hip-hop dance troupe performs — for an audience of a handful of befuddled journalists and a few gamely applauding volunteers. “Make some noise for Team Mongolia!” was unsurprisingly not met with a wall of sound on Monday.
Other innovations worked better. The game is quick, played first to 21 points or 10 minutes. It’s played on a half court, and the transitions are rapid fire. No coaching is allowed, and the shot clock is 12 seconds.
The U.S. men are not on hand at the Games. Prospective players were required to compete in qualifying tournaments throughout the year, an unappealing proposition for anyone with a lucrative N.B.A. contract. The group of midlevel European-based players that the United States put together failed to qualify.
But because the W.N.B.A. is a summer league, the opportunity was there to recruit some top players for the qualifiers. And the league has shut down for the duration of the Olympics, to give the United States the strongest possible five-on-five and three-on-three teams.
As it stands, both are the favorites for the gold medal.
The two biggest names in the Olympic tennis tournament enjoyed a hassle-free day of work at Ariake Tennis Park on Monday.
Naomi Osaka of Japan, the biggest star for the host country in these Games, and Novak Djokovic of Serbia, the top-ranked men’s player, both won in straight sets as the harsh heat eased.
For Djokovic, who beat Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany, the win moved him one step closer to the fourth jewel in the Golden Slam he is shooting for — winning all four Grand Slams and the Olympic gold medal in the same year. Steffi Graf is the only previous player to pull off the feat.
Djokovic was not perfect but he was plenty efficient, needing just an hour and a quarter to dispatch the big-hitting German, 6-4, 6-3, and advance into the round of 16. He is 11 wins away from another level of tennis immortality. He lost his serve just once on Monday, did not double fault and served three aces.
Osaka needed just 65 minutes to get past Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland, 6-3, 6-2. Osaka lost just eight points on her serve and won 61 total points to just 36 for Golubic.
Djokovic’s next match should be a fair test — he faces Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, the young Spaniard who has been playing well.
As much as any athlete here, Djokovic appears to be feeding off the energy of the Olympics. after his match he spoke of how happy he is here, how much he is enjoying the break from the solitary routine of the tennis tour and the ability to eat and hobnob and share the gym with so many athletes from so many different sports.
“It’s a unique opportunity,” he said. “You chat about sports and life with all these people. It’s something we don’t really get the chance to do.”
Osaka will be a heavy favorite against Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic, who is ranked 42nd in the world. And her path toward gold got even easier in Round 2 as two more top competitors were eliminated: third-seeded Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus and Iga Swiatek of Poland, the No. 6 seed.
The most emotional moment of the day came after Paula Badosa of Spain upset Swiatek, the 2020 French Open champion. Swiatek, who takes losses hard, was crying as she approached the net. Badosa, her good friend and occasional practice partner, embraced her and tried to comfort her. “I told her I played amazing and I had to to beat her,” Badosa said. “I said she is going to be at the top for a very long time. She does not have to worry about losing this match to me.”
But Badosa could only do so much. Swiatek sunk into her chair and sobbed into a towel for several minutes.
The early exits for Swiatek and Sabalenka — who lost to Donna Vekic of Croatia — came after the top seeded player in the tournament, Ashleigh Barty of Australia, was bounced in her first match.
TOKYO — Until Monday, the Philippines, a sports-mad country of nearly 110 million people, had never won an Olympic gold medal.
But Hidilyn Diaz, a weight lifter at her fourth Olympics, finally broke the Philippines’ nearly century-long drought by capturing a gold in the women’s 55 kilogram division, achieving two Olympic records in the process.
“It’s unbelievable,” she said, caressing the gold medal hanging on her neck. “I expected to win, but when you hold this already, it’s like, Wow, I never thought this would happen today.”
Diaz, 30, said that her record-breaking 127 kilogram lift in the clean and jerk event was the first time she had successfully hefted that much weight. In training, she had maxed out at 125 kilograms, she said.
She also claimed another Olympic record for the total of her two best lifts, one in the snatch and the other in the clean and jerk.
The finale of the 55 kilogram competition provided high drama in a sport that can sometimes feel preordained, given the dominance of a Chinese squad that was expected to prevail in all four weight classes it was contesting in Tokyo.
Diaz, a silver medalist at the 2016 Rio Olympics, went into the competition hoping to win a medal but the gold seemed like it was the preserve of Liao Qiuyun, the Chinese reigning Asia champion. In the most recent Asia championships, Diaz, who is 4 feet 11 inches, had come in fourth.
But as the other top contenders approached the barbells grim-faced on Monday, Diaz kept smiling. On the final lift, the top three competitors and their coaches scrambled to decide what weight they should call. Too light, and they might be outpaced. Too heavy, and they might not make the lift.
For her last turn, the Chinese competitor cleared 126 kilograms, an Olympic record, with barely a hint of discomfort. To win, Diaz would have to surpass what she had done before — by two kilograms. She pulled the bar to her clavicle, then staggered for a moment as she thrust the barbells into the sky. One Mississippi, two Mississippi.
The gold was hers.
The second youngest of six siblings, Diaz grew up in the southern Philippine city of Zamboanga, a place intermittently seized by sectarian conflict. Her family was poor, and she tried weight lifting as an 11 year old, tagging along with the older boys of her family.
It turned out she could lift more than the boys. She started out with pieces of wood, then jeep wheel protectors, then blocks of cement.
She eventually was recruited to the Philippine national team, but when sports officials mentioned the 2008 Beijing Olympics to her, she didn’t know what the Games were, she said. As a 17 year old at those Games, she was the youngest female weight lifter in competition.
In 2012, Diaz sustained an injury that left her mentally and physically drained, she said. Quitting weight lifting, though, didn’t seem an option.
“It was just survival,” she said. “I’m the breadwinner in my family.”
But the fun eventually returned, and Diaz won a silver in Rio. Desperate for a gold medal, the Philippine sporting establishment convinced her not to retire before Tokyo.
The Philippines is crazy for sports. During the years of American colonization, the Y.M.C.A. introduced a new sport played with a ball and fruit baskets. Today, basketball is ubiquitous across the archipelago. Boxing is popular, too, especially after Manny Pacquiao, the longtime champion turned politician, burst onto the scene.
Since the early days of the pandemic, Diaz has been training in Malaysia, staying away from the Philippines, where cases proliferated despite a strict lockdown.
At the Asian championship in Uzbekistan in April, Diaz held back, said Monico Puentevella, a veteran politician who has also served as the head of the national weight lifting federation and the Philippine Olympic Committee. She settled for fourth. The idea was to lull the Chinese into thinking that Diaz had reached her full potential, he said. The ploy seemed to have worked.
“I have been dreaming of this gold medal for so many years,” Puentevella, 75, said. “Now that she’s won, I can die happy.”
TOKYO — The moment Katie Ledecky knew would eventually come, though maybe not this soon, happened three-quarters of the way through the 400-meter freestyle Monday morning at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.
For 300 meters Ledecky, the world-record holder and defending gold medalist, led Ariarne Titmus of Australia, who had been faster than Ledecky at this distance all year. Ledecky had gone out fast, trying to put Titmus in a hole and maybe make her doubt herself.
It’s what a swimmer does when she knows she might not have as much as the competitor next to her, and it nearly worked. Titmus said that halfway through the race she saw Ledecky a half-second and nearly a body in front of her and started to worry.
But then, 100 meters later off the turn, they were nearly even and, to nobody’s surprise, Titmus pulled ahead to win in a time of 3:56.69 to Ledecky’s 3:57.36. Yet it was still shocking to see Ledecky come up short at a distance that, not long ago, she had been anticipated to own through her career.
At the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016, Ledecky won the 400 free by nearly five seconds. And yet, now, there was Titmus churning past her.
“Surreal,” Titmus said, still breathing heavily several minutes after the triumph. “It’s the biggest thing you can do in your sporting career.”
It was one of the most anticipated showdowns of the Tokyo Games. It seemed Titmus’s race to lose based on her superior times recently, but Ledecky had never lost an individual race at the Olympics, a run that stretched to her surprise win as a 15-year-old nine years ago in London.
The American men, meanwhile, delivered a statement in winning the 4×100-meter freestyle relay, even without Phelps to carry them. The Americans led wire to wire and put up the third-fastest relay time in history. Caeleb Dressel gave the U.S. the early lead, and Blake Pieroni kept it through the halfway mark. Then it was Bowen Becker’s turn. He turned over a half-body length lead to Zach Apple, who took the Americans home.
“My job is easy when I have these three guys leading me out,” Apple said with the gold medal draped around his neck.
But the United States could not reach the podium in the day’s two other finals. Margaret MacNeil of Canada won the 100-meter butterfly, with Torri Huske, the 18-year-old Virginian, coming in fourth. In the 100-meter breaststroke, Adam Peaty of Britain defended his title, with Michael Andrew coming in fourth.
TOKYO — Ariarne Titmus of Australia, not Katie Ledecky of the United States, won the women’s 400-meter freestyle gold. Ledecky, 24, came in as the defending Olympic champion and world-record holder. But Titmus, 20, swam a faster 400 in Australia’s Olympic trials than Ledecky did in hers. In the final on Monday, Titmus reeled in Ledecky after the American had built a lead of more than a body length. Here is how the race unfolded.
It started with the luck of the draw. Bad luck.
American surfers John John Florence and Kolohe Andino were placed in the same heat. To qualify for the quarterfinals, one teammate would have to knock the other out.
The conditions at Tsurigasaki Beach were not great, and the nature of the sport is such that the contest can be put on hold — or canceled altogether — if waves are unfavorable. And on Monday morning, after a handful of rounds, the day’s event was put on hold.
Andino, 27, had anticipated conditions that would throw curveballs at the athletes. He spoke with my colleague John Branch before the Games about how that could actually play to his advantage.
“My chances are good, super good,” he said. “I grew up surfing similar waves, my equipment’s really good for that type of waves, and my attitude toward poor waves is good for me: When I’ve done good in the past is when the waves are bad, and everyone’s kind of like, ‘Oh, man,’ and whining about it. I thrive in that.”
Conditions improved just enough for Florence and Andino to compete in the early afternoon. Andino had a strong start and surfed a commanding 8.50 wave. Florence, 28, was unable to catch up, and later told reporters that he struggled to find an open face on a wave in order to pull off any sort of high-scoring maneuver.
The two-time world champion finished with 11.60 points to Andino’s 14.63 points. Quite the victory for a surfer who has never won a championship tour event.
He wasn’t the only world champion to fall.
Earlier on Monday, Stephanie Gilmore of Australia, who has seven world titles to her name, succumbed as well. She had expected these kinds of conditions and even spent a month training in less favorable waves to prepare. But she couldn’t catch up to Bianca Buitendag of South Africa, who had the heat’s highest scoring wave with 7.10 points. Buitendag finished with 13.93 points to Gilmore’s 10.0.
TOKYO — Youth was served to a global audience on Monday when two 13-year-old skateboarders fought to the final trick to determine the winner of the women’s street competition.
Momiji Nishiya of Japan looked to echo the winning performance of Yuto Horigome in the men’s competition at the same park a day earlier. She was just a few months older than Rayssa Leal of Brazil, an energetic sprite with flowing hair and a broad smile who was looking to become the youngest female gold medalist in Summer Games history.
Leal went first. She needed a big landing to slip past Nishiya on the scoreboard. She flew through the air, twisted her board below her, slid down a rail and spilled onto the concrete in disappointment. A silver medal and a hug from her mother awaited her exit.
The gold belonged to Nishiya, who landed her final three tricks for big scores, all of them necessary to claim victory. She is close to being the youngest gold medalist; that distinction belongs to Marjorie Gestring, a diver who won at age 13 years and 268 days at the 1936 Berlin Games. Nishiya is closer to her 14th birthday.
This contest was infused with generational cross currents, jolting the Olympics with the kind of youthful spirit that it wanted.
“They’ve gotten cool points,” said Alexis Sablone, a 34-year-old skater from Brooklyn, who had been in contention for a medal, a bit to her surprise, then watched as girls less than half her age competed to win the Olympics.
“I was like, We’re finally here,” Sablone said after finishing fourth. “Female skateboarders have reached critical mass. There’s enough now that there will be prodigies. And they’re here.”
These Olympics have become a showcase for youth, especially women, and especially in skateboarding. The youngest Olympic athlete was 12-year-old Hend Zaza of Syria, who lost her opening match in table tennis.
But the next five youngest athletes at the Tokyo Games are female skateboarders. Other sports are sprinkled with young athletes, particularly swimming and diving, but nowhere else is the talent pool of youth as deep as it is in skateboarding.
Four of the eight women in the street final were 16 or younger. Funa Nakayama of Japan, 16, skated to bronze. When you added the ages of the medalists, it came to 42, and somewhere market researchers got excited and stodgy people took notice.
SAITAMA, Japan — Luka Doncic made his Olympic debut for Slovenia on Monday. He also made sure it was memorable.
Doncic, a two-time N.B.A. All-Star with the Dallas Mavericks, erupted for 48 points as Slovenia blew past Argentina, 118-100, in the first game of men’s basketball group play for both teams.
“He just destroyed us,” said Sergio Hernandez, the Argentina coach.
Doncic’s scoring binge tied him for the second most points ever in a game at the Olympics (Ed Palubinskas scored 48 points for Australia in 1976), and he probably would have broken the single-game record of 55 points, set by Oscar Schmidt of Brazil in 1988, had the game not been so lopsided.
In an act of benevolence, Doncic grabbed a seat on the bench when Slovenia was ahead by 26 points in the fourth quarter.
“I don’t care about the records,” Doncic said. “We had a win, and that’s what we came here for.”
Doncic, 22, is one of the game’s prodigies — he finished sixth in voting for the N.B.A. Most Valuable Player Award this season, one year after he finished fourth — and he has steadily gone about the business of lifting Slovenia into the global basketball conversation.
In late June, just a few weeks after the Mavericks closed out their season with a first-round playoff loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, Doncic decamped to Lithuania to join his Slovenian teammates for an Olympic qualifying tournament. Slovenia won all four games to earn its first Olympic berth, and Doncic was dominant, averaging 21.3 points, 11.3 assists and 7.3 rebounds.
On Monday, he scored 31 points before halftime and shot 18 of 29 from the field overall. He also had 11 rebounds and 5 assists, though Hernandez seemed surprised when he glanced at the box score afterward: He could have sworn Doncic had finished with more assists. It was cold comfort.
It should be noted that Argentina is pretty good at basketball: The team claimed silver at the most recent world championships, in 2019, and won gold at the 2004 Olympics. Hernandez threw a smorgasbord of defenders at Doncic: some tall, some quick, some athletic. He turned them all into traffic cones.
“We tried everything we would’ve tried with a normal player, but he is not a normal player,” Hernandez said, adding: “He is the best player in the world, including the N.B.A. If there was any doubt in my mind, it is there no more.”
Asked about that assessment, Aleksander Sekulic, the Slovenian coach, said: “I fully agree.”
The American men’s rugby sevens team has made its way through the so-called group of death. After beating Kenya in the morning session on Monday, the U.S. team hung on to beat Ireland, a tougher opponent, 19-17.
The victories were crucial to the Americans’ medal aspirations, especially because they face South Africa, a perennial powerhouse, in the third and final match of the group stage. With two wins already, the Americans have a solid chance of advancing to the quarterfinals.
“You know, it’s all about going into Day 2,” said Perry Baker, the two-time player of the year. “We took care of the first few games, which was very important for us. So I feel good, no matter how we got the win.”
The Americans were ranked second in the world in the 2018-2019 season and expected to convert that run into an Olympic medal before the Tokyo Games were postponed. But they had an uneven start to the 2019-2020 season before it was shut down, and several players have been recuperating from significant injuries.
The U.S. team has not had many chances to test itself against opponents. Teams from New Zealand, South Africa and other rugby nations also faced restrictions on overseas travel, but they have far larger rugby communities in their countries, so they have had more chances to practice.
The Americans’ passing wasn’t sharp against Ireland, but they controlled the clock and were aggressive on defense, which was good enough to beat a tough squad.
The United States dominated the beginning of the game. Baker started the scoring when he sprinted down the left wing for the first try of the match, and the Americans took an early 12-0 lead.
With three minutes remaining, the U.S. led, 19-10. The Irish added a try just before the whistle, but it wasn’t enough.
“I think we know that we’re contenders,” Captain Madison Hughes said. “But every time we get on the pitch, we’ve got to prove that not only to ourselves, but to the rest of the world.”
TOKYO — The Summer Olympics have already been hampered by a pandemic and sweltering heat. Starting on Tuesday, athletes and organizers will also have to deal with strong winds and heavy rain, with a typhoon expected to make landfall north of Tokyo.
The storm will most likely avoid a direct hit on the capital, but the winds and waves on the periphery of the storm could upset Olympic plans in and around the city.
A forecast by the Japan Meteorological Agency called for about six inches of rain over a 24-hour period through Wednesday morning, with winds reaching speeds of up to about 45 miles per hour.
Hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones are essentially the same storm — they are all circular storms that form over warm water, with very low air pressure at the center, and winds greater than 74 miles an hour — but what they are called depends on where they form.
“Hurricane” is used to refer to storms that form in the North Atlantic, the northeastern Pacific, the Caribbean Sea or the Gulf of Mexico, whereas “typhoon” is used for storms that develop in the northwestern Pacific and usually threaten Asia. “Cyclone” refers to storms in the South Pacific and in the Indian Ocean.
As of Monday night, Olympic organizers had only announced schedule changes to rowing and archery. Otherwise, events are expected to proceed as planned, they said.
The forecast is not all bad news, however. Competitors in the surfing event said the storm surge had already stoked bigger waves. And some athletes even welcomed the challenge, like Haley Batten, an American who is scheduled to compete Tuesday on a mountain biking course on the Izu Peninsula, southwest of Tokyo.
“It definitely makes the event even more exciting,” she told reporters on Sunday. “So I’m just embracing the chaos.”
YOKOHAMA, Japan — If the previous contests are any indication of what is to come, the gold medal game between the United States and Japan on Tuesday is likely to be another classic between the best two softball teams in the world.
The United States’ 2-1 win over Japan at Yokohama Baseball Stadium on Monday, their final game of round-robin play, didn’t matter much because both teams had already secured their spots in the gold medal game. And the three best pitchers in tournament either barely pitched (Monica Abbott and Cat Osterman of the United States) or not at all (Yukiko Ueno of Japan). Still, the contest showed once again that the two rivals were closely matched.
The last time the teams faced off for a gold medal was in 2008, when Ueno led Japan in a stunning 3-1 upset of the United States, which was seeking its fourth straight top prize. So it was only fitting that after the sport was absent for 13 years from the Olympics, it would return with the very same teams and some of the same cast of characters.
“It’s crazy,” U.S. outfielder Janie Reed said. “It just shows how talented those pitchers are to still be at the top of their game, 13 years later. So hats off to them. But there is also some nostalgia, and it’s really exciting to get to be a part of it.”
Ueno has carried Japan’s pitching staff throughout the 2020 tournament and figures to be on the mound on Tuesday. In 2008, she tossed 413 pitches in three games over the final two days, including outdueling Osterman and Abbott in the gold medal final.
“She’s experienced, but so are we,” center fielder Haylie McCleney, the United States’ best hitter this tournament, said of Ueno. “We’re ready. We figured we would have this matchup, so we’re excited. It’s going to be a good game tomorrow, and everybody should tune in and watch.”
So far, the United States has struggled to score runs at the same pace as Japan. The U.S. won all five of its round-robin games by two runs or fewer, outscoring their opponents 9-2. Japan, though, led by Yamato Fujita, outscored its opponents 18-5 but went 4-1.
“I know there are fans back home grumbling about the offense,” Osterman said, “but the truth is this is a competitive game internationally, and blowouts are not happening anymore.”
Monday was the latest taut matchup. After pitcher Ally Carda coughed up a first-inning run, the United States rallied in the sixth to tie the score. Kelsey Stewart smacked the walk-off blast in the bottom of the next frame. She threw her arms up in the air as she rounded the bases, while her teammates bounced up and down and head coach Ken Eriksen hugged his assistants.
“It was like something you dream about as a little kid: a home run at the Olympics, let alone a walk-off,” Stewart said.
After the victory, Carda, who struck out nine batters, said that even though Monday was just another game, it was useful for further scouting out their rival. “And really, it is just fun,” she added. “We’re both very competitive teams.”
In just over a day, the United States and Japan will line up and do it all over again. But this time, it will be for the top global honor in the sport and with their best on the mound.
“We’re excited to write our chapter in the Olympic softball history book,” McCleney said.
Here are some highlights of U.S. broadcast coverage for early Monday morning, including diving and three-on-three basketball. All times are Eastern.
Diving: The final for the men’s synchronized platform event begins at 2:10 a.m. on USA Network.
Shooting: Live coverage of the men’s and women’s skeet shooting finals is at 2:30 a.m. on CNBC.
Fencing: Men’s and women’s quarterfinals air at 3 a.m. on USA.
Cycling: The men’s cross country mountain bike event begins at 4:05 a.m. on CNBC.
Three-on-three basketball: The U.S. women take on Italy at 4:55 a.m. on NBC Sports Network.
Rugby: Men’s group play begins at 5 a.m. on USA.
China has many reasons to be proud of its Olympians in Tokyo, starting with the fact that they have won the most medals so far of any country. But some social media users are turning on their own athletes, accusing them of being insufficiently patriotic.
The attacks come as nationalist fervor is swelling across China, fanned by aggressive diplomatic rhetoric, anti-Western sentiment and the country’s increasing confidence in its role on the global stage.
After Yang Qian, a 24-year-old sharpshooter, claimed the first gold medal of the Games on Saturday, some users on Weibo, a Twitter-like platform, began pouring abuse on her for sharing photographs of her Nike shoe collection in December. Some Chinese have recently pledged to boycott the company for its promise to stop using cotton from the Xinjiang region because of concerns about forced labor. Yang soon deleted the post.
Another sharpshooter, Wang Luyao, drew scorn after failing to qualify for the finals of her event. She posted a selfie on Weibo with the caption, “Sorry everybody, I admit I was weak, see you in three years.” Some users immediately said her inclusion of a selfie proved she had taken the Games too lightly. “Did we send you to the Olympics to represent the country just to be weak?” one popular comment said. Wang also deleted her post.
The nationalist attacks also spread to Hong Kong, which as a semiautonomous territory fields its own Olympic team. A pro-Beijing politician said on Sunday that he “strongly condemned” Ka Long Angus Ng, a badminton player, for competing in a black jersey that did not have the official logo of the Hong Kong government. “If you don’t want to represent Hong Kong, China, then withdraw!” the politician, Nicholas Muk, wrote on Facebook. The color black is often associated with Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters.
In an Instagram post, Ng explained that he had worn his own clothing for the match because his sponsorship deal had ended. He could not wear the Hong Kong logo because its use is regulated by the government, he added. The back of his shirt had included the words “Hong Kong China.”
Facebook users heavily ridiculed Muk’s accusations, and he eventually deleted not just the post but his entire page. The head of Hong Kong’s delegation to Tokyo said on Monday that the episode should not be politicized.
There was also some backlash in mainland China to the nationalist commenters; some social media users pointing out that Yang’s Nike post predated the backlash to the company over Xinjiang cotton. Global Times, a state-owned tabloid, said that 33 Weibo users had been suspended for insulting or defaming Wang, the other sharpshooter.
But Chinese officials, in urging that the Olympics be kept separate from politics, have at times seemed to do just the opposite.
On Saturday, the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka criticized a photograph that Reuters had selected to accompany a story about a Chinese weight lifting gold medalist. The image showed the athlete, Hou Zhihui, with a strained facial expression mid-lift. The embassy, on Twitter, called Reuters “ugly” and “shameless,” suggesting that it had purposely chosen an unflattering image.
But China Daily, a state-owned publication, had also used a similar photograph in its own report about Hou.
Tokyo Olympic organizers on Monday announced 16 new positive coronavirus tests among people connected to the Games. At least 153 people with Olympic credentials, including 19 athletes, have tested positive.
Some athletes who tested positive have not been publicly identified.
The Netherlands team announced that the rower Finn Florijn had tested positive after his Olympic debut on Friday. Florijn, 21, had been scheduled to compete on Saturday, but his required 10-day quarantine will cut short his competition.
The average number of cases in Japan has increased 105 percent in the past two weeks, according to New York Times data.